How *not* To Die in L5R

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 21, 2006 9:05 pm    Post subject: How *not* To Die in L5R Reply with quote

Ok so here’s a bare-bones survival guide for L5R RPG. Bear in mind that this is bare bones and you should still read some of the stuff in the player’s handbook. The only reason I’m posting it is so that you have a summary understanding of how stuff works.

The Emerald Empire is a land of mysticism and power where, as their ad campaign states, honor is more powerful than steel. To really experience it one must be versed both in the art of combat, as well as the art of court. Sometimes political maneuvering in the Empire can be more deadly than a clash on the battlefield, causing ripples that will be felt throughout all of Rokugan. So obviously one wishes to avoid causing scenes, at least unplanned ones, because if you insult the wrong person it’s very likely that you’ll wake up dead, or maybe you won’t wake up at all…

That is what this post is for, to attempt to give you a crash course in the history, culture, ethics, and social structure of the Emerald Empire with a focus on how not to get yourself killed by a Lion because you asked him how it was hanging and he took it as an insult about his katana.

First off: History and people that you will need to know because your character will know them. First are the Kami, or the Gods. In the beginning there was only Lady Sun (also called Amatseru) and Lord Moon (which are actually the sun and moon). One day Lord moon got all up in Lady sun’s business (an eclipse happened) and she conceived children. Lord moon, being the selfish bastard that he was, was afraid his kids would be more powerful than him and usurp his place with Lady Sun so he ate them, except for the firstborn, named Hantei. Lady Sun and Hantei planned to rescue them, and Hantei cut open Lord Moon’s stomach and released his brothers and sisters. Well Lord moon bled and Lady Sun cried, and the blood and tears mixed and created the Earth, where Hantei’s brothers and sisters fell down to (thus losing their divinity). Fu Leng, the youngest of the children caught onto Lord Moon’s hand, but Hantei cut it off, sending Fu Leng to join his bretheren, but Fu Leng grabbed Hantei at the last moment, dragging him down with them all. There you have it folks the beginning of time.
Well all of the brothers and sisters gathered humans to follow them, and formed the Seven Great Clans, each headed by one of the Kami. They instructed the humans and trained them to become better, each sharing some divine secrets. So all the major houses are named after them, Shiba, Togashi, ect. And there was a contest to see who would rule them all and Hantei won, so Hantei became Emperor and his decedents all follow suit.
All the children were happy and accounted for except one…Fu Leng. He had fallen far to the south of everyone else and had been buried because of Lord Moon’s hand, and he descended into Jigkoku, or the spirit world. Now this is not a nice place and it corrupted the hell out of Fu Leng, so when he finally got out he was twisted, bringing Oni, or demons, with him, and could no longer stand his mother’s light, so he created the Shadowlands, a twisted place where his corruption seeps out of the pit he created when he fell.
Now Fu Leng wants to rule the world and is right pissed and his brothers and sisters don’t know about it. So when Fu Leng’s hideous undead/demonic hordes attacked noone was ready. There were several battles and the good Kami managed to hold their positions, but just barely. Finally Hantei decided to go face his brother; alone, half-knowing he couldn’t win against him.
Enter Shinsei, a small, and yet extremely badass, monk who wished to speak to Hantei. Hantei’s foremost servant, the Emerald Champion went to kill Shinsei for his insolence when Shinsei defeated him without using a weapon. Shinsei then spoke with Hantei about many things, as well as speaking to his brothers and sisters. Hence the Tao of Shinsei, where his wisdom is collected. He said that Hantei could not win against his dark brother, and that only mortal men and women would defeat him. So Hantei allowed Shinsei to take one mortal hero from each clan, known as the seven thunders, and go into the shadowlands to confront Fu Leng. Only one returned. Shoshuro, the Scorpion champion returned bearing 12 black scrolls and an obsidian hand, saying only that the scrolls were the downfall of Fu Leng. They’ve been in scorpion keeping ever since.
Over time the ordinary Kami passed on or ascended, the clans war over minor disputes, land, honor, ect. But overall after the defeat of Fu Leng an era of peace was entered called the 1000 years of peace in which you now live. The only exception to this was the case of Iuchiban the BloodSpeaker, who used a dark magic, called Maho, to raise the dead and march against the empire. His threat has been since seen to and he was imprisoned.

Characters in Review:
Lady Sun- Amatseru, the divine sun.
Lord Moon- the divine moon.
Hantei- First emperor and first child or Lady Sun and Lord Moon (Kami), Emperors take his name because they are of his bloodline.
Hida- Incredibly strong Kami, founded the Crab Clan
Doji- Beautiful female Kami, founded the Crane Clan
Togashi- Intelligent Enigmatic Kami, left his brothers and sisters to found the Dragon Clan in the northern mountains of Rokugan.
Akodo- Brave, courageous Kami, founded the Lion Clan.
Shiba- Wise, kind Kami who founded the Phoenix clan along with Isawa, a mortal.
Bayushi- Crafty Kami who founded the Scorpion clan and agreed to be the underhand of the Empire.
Shinjo- Female Kami who founded the Ki-Rin (now unicorn) clan and went beyond the Shadowlands to find what lay there.
Fu Leng- Youngest child of Lady Sun and Lord Moon, bad news, corrupt, made the Shadowlands, works for the destruction of the Empire. Source of the “Shadowlands Taint” Which corrupts the mind body and spirit.
Shinsei- Wise monk who advised Emperor Hantei and whose wisdom is written in the Tao of Shinsei which many people follow religiously.

As for the culture of Rokugan and the Emerald Empire, it is a rigid RIGID caste system with very specific rules for who can talk to who when and about what, what can be said where, and even who can touch what. It can be extremely confusing at times, but there are several basics that one should know from the outset.
1. You cannot as a member of the samurai class be unclean. Be it the Taint, or touching dead flesh. It is extremely important to avoid the latter, as you lose all your honor ranks if you touch a corpse outside of battle. Even sweating is considered unclean, which is why silk Kimonos are employed, they do not hold sweat as cotton would.
2. If you meet someone, there will be things stitched into their outfit, a “mon” or clan or family symbol will be on their clothing, most likely on their back and on one or both of their arms. The one on their right arm is to guide their sword and the one on their back is to show respect. The one on their left is the most important to them because they placed it near their heart. When approaching a Samurai of unknown station, you can usually tell what clan he belongs to by the color of clothing he wears, but not always. If you do not know the family he belongs to OR his clan, you should call him Samurai-sama until you are introduced otherwise, if you know their school rank is less than or equal to yours, you may call them Samurai-san. If you know their clan you should address them as Clan-sama or Clan-san according to above rules of school rank. If you know their family, clan or school, you may refer to them by whichever Mon they place closest to their heart, family-sama or school-sama. These rules show your respect of the other samurai and if ignored bring dishonor to both them and you.
3. When giving a gift to ANYONE it is customary for them to refuse twice and then accept a third time, this gives the gift giver 2 chances to reconsider, so there can be no doubt about the item’s new owner. Same thing goes for if you are receiving a gift. If someone fails to continue to offer it, it is incredibly insulting, because it shows that they never intended to give it in the first place, so always offer 3 times. It is customary when visiting a high-ranking official or woman of any kind to bring a gift, however it should be something special, because after all If you go buy something for a clan dayiamo from their own area it was fruitless because technically they owned it already. You should be crafty in the gifts you give.
4. It is not honesty that is important in Rokugan but sincerity. The Emerald Empire is not concerned with facts, only appearances. The ability to be sincere without being honest is a valued skill.
5. There is no such thing as “evidence” anywhere outside the Kitsuki investigators of the Dragon clan. Any trial is based on the testimony of Samurai and that alone,. The Scorpion especially exploit this obvious legal loophole. Be careful who you’re enemies are, because if a Samurai says something, it is so.
6. A samurai’s sole purpose is to serve his lord; he is willing to throw his life away for him because of the Rokugani religion is based heavily on Karma and reincarnation.
7. Learn the Code of Bushido and understand it.
8. Always let insults be veiled if you must make them when speaking to someone of higher station than you and please be circumspect, if they can’t tell whether they should feel insulted or complimented you’ve done your job.
9. NEVER question your lord openly.
10. You have to grin and bear insults from a superior, at least in public. There is nothing you can do that will not end in death and dishonor for you. Find other ways to take revenge.
11. Lastly just guard your words carefully. It’s difficult to tell what some clans will become offended at and what they won’t. Guard your words at all times and hopefully you’ll never have to find out where that line of offense is.
12. Common sense.

Also, if we get into some of the modules, as I would like to, there is the
Winter Court series, named for the yearly gathering of samurai at one or another clan’s home. This is important because winter is short, but so severe in Rokugan that travel is basically a standstill, so where you’re spending the winter is important. The Winter Court will have all the biggest names in the clans there as well as the Emperor himself, so it is a great honor to attend, and it is here that some of the biggest webs of political intrigue are spun and those unaware will be caught in the threads.

The religion of Rokugan is a mixture of three different schools of thought,
combining the wisdom in the Tao of Shinsei with Ancestor Worship as well as the worship of the fortunes. The fortunes are spirits who are beneath the Gods and control certain things, there is a fortune for every living thing composed of an element. Shugenja pray to them to make their magic as well as farmers praying for good harvests. There are 7 major fortunes:

Daikoku- Fortune of Wealth
Ebisu- Fortune of Honest Work
Benten- Fortune of Romantic Love
Bishamon- Fortune of Strength
Fukurokujin- Fortune of Wisdom
Jurojin- Fortune of Longevity
Hotei- Fortune of Contentment

They are both the fortunes of what is listed and the opposite and this dual nature is usually depecited in statues of a fat, happy version of the fortune and an angry demonic one holding flaming swords. Angry fortunes equal bad bad times.

And of course all of Rokugan worship the first Kami that are their ancestors as well as anyone who in their history has accomplished some great task or was extremely honorable or enlightened. This worship is from the hope that the Kami or their ancestors will help them or intercede for them in some way.

Any other questions? Please Ask!

"All that comes out of the exhaust pipes of this porche are baby foxes."
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Sprints McGee

Joined: 04 Jan 2004
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 22, 2008 11:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The voices are back, excellent.
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2008 12:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just you wait!
"All that comes out of the exhaust pipes of this porche are baby foxes."
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